I am very excited to tell you about a rather special restaurant that has just opened in St Albans. People talk to me all the time about their experiences of eating locally and there is a recurring theme of what people look for – delicious food that they wouldn’t make themselves; reasonable prices; a lovely setting; and independent. It has to be as good as places in London. I am so pleased to tell you that Tabure is all this, and does it with style.
Situated on Spencer Street near the Town Hall, Tabure is a bright and welcoming space with a funky bar area at the front near the large windows and a tabaka grill where you can sit and watch the chefs cooking.
I met the owners Hulya and Mark Pearse and loved their energy and enthusiasm for Turkish food and hospitality. You might know them from Okka in Harpenden, and Hulya told me, “Having grown up in Turkey, I dreamed for years about opening Tabure which will offer a very different Turkish dining experience.” Hulya travelled extensively during her former corporate life and you can see that she has brought her experience of eating in excellent restaurants with her. The couple spent two years traveling around Turkey and have collected family recipes to bring to us here. It is such a treat to try dishes that I just haven’t seen before; modern, light Turkish food.
I tried koftas made with red lentils and spring herbs, which were moreish and had the bonus of being very healthy. Courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta and herbs were incredible and made us go very quiet when eating them; you must have these if you go. Quail was served with pomegranate molasses and rose petals, and was a beautiful match to the roasted cauliflower. Just writing it down makes me want to go back and eat it all again!
The idea is to order a range of dishes to share with friends and I think you will want to do that to try as many different things as possible. If you prefer, the cop sis (skewer) cooked on the tabaka grill or a Sac tava cooked and served in a handmade tava would be a good meal in itself. Order some flatbread to mop up the juices. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options as is the nature of Turkish food – you could feast on vegetarian food alone here.
The puds are amazing and you won’t get the chance to try these anywhere else so do leave space. I loved the crème brulée sutlac made with rice. The baklava is homemade and given a modern English twist with elderflower syrup and honeycombe icecream; look out too for the Turkish Delight jelly.
You can just pop in for an after-work drink (warning: it’s already busy at the weekends) – the cocktails are inspired by Turkish flavours such as pomegranate, mulberry and star anise. I was pleased to see a Leventhorpe sparkling rose on the menu and Luscombe juices. You can also get a proper Turkish coffee, served either “sweet, a little sweet or with a little sugar”. I am sure experts will be able to tell the difference.
A “tabure” by the way, is a simple Turkish chair and Hulya explained that it is synonymous with Turkish culture and eating. Neighbours place tabures outside their homes in order to chat and watch the world go by and cafes and street food vendors have stacks of them for customers. It is this sense of informality and welcome that Hulya and Mark want to share and I think they have got it exactly right.
[INFO BOX] Tabure
6 Spencer Street, St Albans AL35EG
Open 12-11 every day.
T: 01727 569068